Weigelia florida originates from East Asia. Its spread-area stretches over East-China, the Manchuria, Korea and Japan. The honeysuckle plant has been cultivated in European gardens since the middle of the 19th century as an extremely robust and flowering ornamental shrub. In addition to the game species, various hybrids are available in garden shops. They originated in England, and the United States by crosses of the Lieblichen Weigelie with other East Asian Weigelian species.
Weigelia florida grows about 3 to 3.5 meters high and just as wide. It grows upright and somewhat sparse with long overhanging flower shoots. The young branches carry a light brown bark, the older branches are grey-brown and have clearly protruding cork cells.
The deciduous leaves are opposite and short to unstalked. They are elliptically shaped with a long tapering tip and a serrated leaf edge. The undersides of the leaves are slightly hairy. The leaves stick to the shoots for a long time in autumn and usually do not show any, sometimes a slightly pronounced, green-yellow autumn colour.
The flowers of the Weigelia florida are white to pale pink in colour and show a slightly stronger pink when faded. The calyx to funnel-shaped individual flowers are two to three centimeters long and stand individually or in groups in the leaf axils of last year’s shoots. They open at the end of April/beginning of May and last until mid-June. From July until frost, there are isolated post-flowering periods, as some of the newly created flower buds open prematurely.
Location and soil
Weigelia florida is extremely adaptable: It prefers to grow in full sunlight, but can also cope with sunny to semi-shade locations, whereby it blooms much more sparsely here. The optimum soil is fresh to moist, rich in nutrients and humus in the acidic to slightly alkaline range. In principle, however, the Weigelie tolerates all garden soils as long as they are neither very dry nor compacted and staunass.
Planting and care
Weigelia florida is very robust and grows easily, so there is no need to take special precautions during planting or to observe a certain planting time. Shrubs in containers can be planted all year round – even in midsummer, as long as the plants are well watered for several weeks afterwards. Like most shrubs, the weigelia like a mulched soil because they have a very flat root system. For this reason, soil cultivation in the root area should be avoided as far as possible. A regular supply of nutrients in spring promotes growth and is particularly recommended after pruning. Two to three litres of mature compost per shrub are perfectly sufficient for nutrient supply. Special frost protection measures are not required for Weigelia. The robust, hardy shrubs can also cope with very low temperatures.
Weigelia are by nature not very long-lived and tend to age. This means that older branches become bloom lazy over time and hardly grow any longer. You can rejuvenate the shrubs with a cut immediately after flowering – this is necessary every three years. Then cut off the oldest branches near the ground and then pull them out of the bush to thinn out the plants. If a piece above the ground branches off a strong young shoot from an old branch, you can also cut off the branch directly above this side shoot.
Use in the garden
Weigelia are easy-care, robust and at the same time valuable flowering shrubs – they open their buds when the first flowering wave of forsythia, ornamental cherries and magnolias is over and flower at about the same time as lilac and golden rain. Weigelia are planted individually or in small groups, but can also be easily integrated into free-growing flower hedges. You can subplant the shrubs with a variety of flowering shrubs and ground cover plants such as cranesbill species, foam blossom (Tiarella), sparks or carnation root (Geum).
Two varieties of the Weigelia florida are common in garden shops: ‘Purpurea’: red leaves, 1 to 1.5 metres high, dark pink flowers ‘Victoria’: dwarf form, 0.8 to 1 metre high, bronze-coloured foliage, dark red shoots, purple red flowers. These are varieties that have emerged from a cross between the Weigelia florida and other Weigelian species. All show like the lovely Weigelie a more or less continuous after-flowering until autumn after completion of the main flowering period.Bristol Ruby’: up to three metres high, vigorous and richly flowering garden hybrid with large ruby red flowers and flowering time from mid-May ‘Eva Rathke’: up to two metres high, large, garnet red flowers, late and long main flowering from June to August ‘Nana Variegata’: up to 1.8 metres high, yellow-edged leaves with high ornamental value, relatively small, white-pink flowers from mid-May ‘Newport Red’: up to three metres high and wide, medium-sized carmine red flowers from mid-May ‘Styriaca’: up to 2.5 metres high, short, widely open pink calyxes from the beginning of May, darkening when withered
The leaves of the Weigelia ‘Purpurea’ are brown-red at first, but become greener and greener during the gardening season (left). The hybrid ‘Nana Variegata’, on the other hand, has variegated foliage (right)
All Weigelia can be reproduced very easily by cuttings in summer. The new, slightly woody shoots are used for this. In autumn, after the leaves have fallen, it is also possible to propagate the plant by using cuttings. For this you should use as long and growing, completely woody shoots as possible.
Diseases and pests
Weigelia are very resistant to diseases and pests. Occasionally, fungal leaf spot diseases can occur, but as a rule they do not cause major damage. Young plants of the ‘Bristol Ruby’ variety are also somewhat susceptible to leafy valleys.
I am Don Burke, one of the authors at My Garden Guide. I am a horticulturist that cultivates, grows, and cares for plants, ranging from shrubs and fruits to flowers. I do it in my own garden and in my nursery. I show you how to take care of your garden and how to perform garden landscaping in an easy way, step by step.I am originally from Sydney and I wrote in local magazines. Later on, I have decided, more than two decades ago, to create my own blog. My area of specialization is related to orchid care, succulent care, and the study of the substrate and the soil. Therefore, you will see many articles dedicated to these disciplines. I also provide advice about how to improve the landscape design of your garden.